I’ll start by saying that this is a tough time of year, and I have (yet again) been disrespected by my remaining family.
I know my mother would want me to ignore it, pretend I’m an orphan and move on, but there are times when silence from that quarter is particularly painful.
Today is the 5th anniversary of my Big Brother’s passing. I should be gone, and he should still be here. We actually had a conversation in passing about that very topic, after he was diagnosed with brain cancer.
We always expected me to not live very long. That’s not an unusual opinion, when one has had their own grave, purchased and ready (and later the subject of a long family feud) from the time one was 5 years old. I was 5 when Jimmy, my much-anticipated younger brother, died 3 short days after he was born.
No idea that there was anything wrong with him.
He looked perfect and we were all celebrating his birth (as we would later celebrate the birth of my Baby Sister), when he died.
Mom went to pick him up from the nursery at the hospital as part of checking out, and her 2nd son was dead. The son her husband wanted aborted (due to my high medical expenses, and the fact that the doctor had advised my Mother to stop having children after multiple miscarriages and her own series of hospital visits and medical expenses).
Daddy Dearest won. The son he reviled was no longer going to be a potential financial burden; although Jimmy’s short life would echo throughout the family for as long as I shall live.
Baby Sis was born 3 years after Jimmy passed away. Another child my father didn’t want, and the knowledge of which has had her chasing him for his approval her entire life. Sad, but some of us only want what we can’t have.
At any rate, I tell you all that to tell you this. My life was built on a family grapevine with multiple branches and extended family, and it’s come down to me being all but an orphan. Part of that was my fault, for moving to California in order to have good quality of life, an extended life, despite the challenges of my breathing and related birth defects.
However, with the death of our Mother in 2005, a vital part of the grapevine was broken. Just before she died and following her passing, we had learned to talk to each other better given the year we all spent caring for Mom during her final battle with COPD, but it didn’t fixed our flawed foundation. We couldn’t withstand the stresses of life and remain strong and there for each other.
Without Mom to serve as translator, we all tried our best but it was hard work. Very much an uphill challenge.
Old sibling issues reared, and the fight over Jimmy’s grave for burying our Mother at his side was not resolved. Daddy Dearest was in the background in my brother and sister’s lives, and I was seen as the troublemaker because I would not make nice and allow him any role in my life. We always fought, because neither of us could let go of the past wrongs, and because I could not give him the honor he felt he deserved because he was my father.
The father who abandoned us.
The father who auctioned the house out from underneath us.
The father for whom money is his God.
In honoring my final promise to our Mother, I brought old battles into the present day, and I failed to succeed. My emotions overruled my brain, and I was weak in not taking the matter to court for a final resolution, regardless of my sibling’s wishes. Mom had picked me because I was strong, but I failed her, too.
That failure to deliver what I promised was my fault. Absolutely. But the decision to resolve the fight was put off with the best of intentions. One of us would be sure to outlive Daddy Dearest, and our older brother would ensure that he was not buried next to our brother, even if our Mother had to have yet another grave purchased for herself and me, across the cemetary from where Jimmy and our Mom’s parents rested. Jack’s headstone rested on the grave that he despised. In the grave that our Mother paid for in blood and sweat and tears. It was his final effort to spit in my Mother’s eye for daring to divorce him.
Following Mom’s passing and the struggling among the 3 of us to honor her wishes, something began to crumble.
Daddy Dearest’s divide-and-conquer lessons from childhood had taken hold once again, and without our Mom to hold us together, the foundation was eroding due to my remaining siblings wanting peace at any cost. Peace which will always be impossible to sustain so long as Daddy Dearest is alive.
So, I gave in for the sake of my siblings upset emotions, and lost my remaining family in the subsequent journey to today.
In 2007, Daddy Dearest had another health scare (a brain aneurysm this time), so I thought we were more likely than not to outlive him and that I would be able to honor our Mother’s wishes to get Jimmy’s grave marked properly and have Jack’s own territorial grave marker (for himself and his new wife) removed and destroyed.
In 2009, however, Golden Boy, my older brother, fell ill with brain cancer. While we’d rebuilt the grapevine despite the challenges of communicating with our baby sister, with the loss of our big brother in 2011, there was nothing left to talk about. Baby Sis was once again the abandoned child with a list of grievances:
My failure to stay in Boston.
My failure to liquidate the remaining assets (the cost of which is more than their pittance value).
My failure as a human being…
all were used as excuses for Baby Sis to make war on me for surviving when I wasn’t supposed to be here.
Big Bro should be here and I should be gone. Believe me, I know that’s true. But, life or the fates have a way of saying, “Ha!”, and we have to roll with the outcome.
Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of Golden Boy’s passing way too young, and I continue to be a woman without a family just because I lived. I lived and he died. I messed up the order of things in Baby Sis’s life.
There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss the both of them, even knowing what a PITA Baby Sis can be. Heck, for that matter, I miss Daddy Dearest, too. Despite knowing how psychopathically evil he is. Because I remember the love and the joy, before life robbed him of hope. Or reason. Or kindness. Daddy Dearest reverted to the 12 year old boy who’d been abandoned by his own parents, and there was no recalling the man I used to know.
So, I live with my reality. The heart wants what the heart wants, and there’s no reasoning with it.
This time of year, however, is particularly challenging.